Curatorial Insight

The Article “Andrew Bolton: How to Curate a Blockbuster Exhibition” is an unusually formatted article­. Given largely as a series of quotes by the subject, the “article” details in Bolton’s own words his standards for deciding what to put on display in an exhibition and how he decides which exhibitions are or are not worthy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The primary focus of the quotes is his decision to fight the perceived norm and host an exhibition on fashion designers as artists; many of his contemporaries had scoffed at the idea. Additionally he lists one of his standards for considering which exhibitions to show: “are we saying something new?”

Recently in my intro to museum studies class, we’ve been spending a lot of time examining how a museum (more specifically, a curator) decides what exhibitions to display, in what format, and with what objects. This article by CNN is relevant in that it shows insight into how Bolton decided, ultimately, to put on an exhibition on the fashions of Alexander McQueen and an exhibition called “Rei Kawakubo/Commes des Garcons: Art of the In-Between.” His disclosures are especially relevant to one topic in class, on whether an exhibition idea is market-driven. This is seen in his statement “Numbers do matter. If people don’t come to it then it’s a failure.”

While Bolton’s work cannot represent curators everywhere, he’s described by the article as the “Pied Piper of his field,” and as such his words carry significant weight. As such, this information is incredibly valuable to me as a student just beginning to edge into museums.

This post was written as a homework assignment for HISP200 at UMW; it is based off of the article “Andrew Bolton: How to curate a blockbuster exhibition” by Harriet Verney